LMT has taken part in a new initiative to develop a mobile app that would help limit the spread of Covid-19.
The purpose of the app, which will be available to the residents of Latvia as of May 2020, is to allow the country to ease its state of emergency restrictions more quickly.
The app is developed based on the principles of European data protection; its use will be voluntary and free of charge.
Here’s how the app will work:
In case a new Covid-19 case is detected, the application will notify all its users with whom the patient has been in close contact (2 to 4 meters) and for more than 15 minutes. In the meantime, the coordinates of the newly diagnosed patient will not be revealed, that way protecting his or her privacy.
Currently, there are several restrictions introduced in Latvia with the aim of limiting the spread of the virus. Out of all precautionary measures, physical distancing among people has been proven the most effective. With the help of the app, residents who have been in contact with the newly diagnosed patient will be able to learn in time that it is necessary to isolate themselves and avoid contact with other people, thus preventing the further spread of the disease.
To date, more than 3 million Covid-19 cases and over 200 thousand deaths from the virus have been approved worldwide. Meanwhile, Latvia has been held up as an exemplar among nations attempting to tackle it.
In an interview for The Telegraph, Latvia’s prime minister Krišjānis Kariņš explained that:
The key reason for the Baltic state's relative success in halting the spread of the virus so far, were the "very many" early steps taken by the government – before the first death from coronavirus in the country.
Although Latvia is currently a country with one of the most moderate restrictions in the world, the existing restrictions still affect its residents’ activities, as well as have a significant impact on the country’s economy. The new mobile app is another early initiative to further limit the spread of the virus, that way avoiding the need for more rigorous national restrictions before it’s too late.
As noted by LMT’s Vice President Ingmārs Pūķis, Latvians are one of the most active smartphone users in Europe. For that reason, although the use of the app will be each person’s individual decisions, it is estimated that initially it will be used by 20% of the country’s population.
It's everyone's own decision – whether they want to protect themselves and take part in fighting the virus. A large part of the population will answer this with a yes,says I. Pūķis
Before developing their solution, creators of the app studied the experience of other countries where similar initiatives were introduced, such as Singapore, Australia, and two initiatives in Europe. Before handing the app over to its users in May, several governmental institutions have been involved in evaluating it, including The President of Latvia and the Chancery of the President of Latvia, The Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (CDPC) of Latvia, NATO StratCom, as well as local medical professionals and epidemiologists.